Halloween in the United States versus The Hungry Ghost Festival in China, and the money to be made

October 31, 2014

The closest celebration in China to Halloween in the United States is The Hungry Ghost Festival, which is celebrated the 14th or 15th night of the 7th lunar month in July or August.

The Ghost Festival, also known as The Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries, in which ghosts and/or spirits of deceased ancestors come from the lower realm and/or hell to visit the living.

Buddhists from China and Taoists claim that the Ghost Festival originated with the canonical scriptures of Buddhism, but many of the visible aspects of the ceremonies originate from Chinese folk religion, and other local folk traditions (see Stephen Teiser’s 1988 book, The Ghost Festival in Medieval China).

In America, most children wear costumes and go door to door collecting free candy.  In China, food is offered to dead ancestors, joss paper is burned and scriptures are chanted.

Chinese Culture.net says the Hungry Ghost Festival is “Celebrated mostly in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and especially in Singapore and Malaysia… It is believed by many Chinese that during this month, the gates of hell are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then want food.

By comparison, History.com says, “Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.”

I found it interesting that the dead linked both America’s Halloween and The Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival—at least historically.

As a child, I loved wearing a costume on Halloween and going out “trick-or-treating” at night to return home with a heavy bag (usually a pillowcase) filled with candy.

I still remember how much my stomach hurt and how terrible I felt after gorging myself on all that free candy.

Today, due to the epidemic of diabetes and overweight or obese children in the United States, I do not celebrate Halloween and do not give candy to children. The last time I gave treats to children on Halloween, I handed out small boxes of raisins (sweet dried grapes) instead of candy, and one mother called me cheap.

But Science Daily.com comes to my defense with: “Teenagers who consume a lot of added sugars in soft drinks and foods may have poor cholesterol profiles—which may possibly lead to heart disease in adulthood, according to first-of-its-kind research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.”

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, “Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups and have been linked to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity, and, in adults and children, type 2 diabetes.”

Then the Mayo Clinic said, “Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes. But type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise, fueled largely by the obesity epidemic,” and the American Diabetes Association says, “25.8 million children and adults in the US have diabetes while 79 million have prediabetes.

“Due to excessive sugar consumption, the risk of diabetes may lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, and/or amputation of feet and legs.”


Americans are Addicted to Sugars

To be fair, I can’t leave out the for-profit candy and costume industry in the U.S. that salivates when Halloween arrives. For instance, Forbes reported that consumers spent $1.96 billion on decorations, $360 million on greeting cards, $2.08 billion on candy and $2.6 billion on costumes. Consider that next time you go out shopping for Halloween candy, you’re helping make the rich wealthier at the cost of your child’s health.

In fact, Americans should learn something from the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. Do not feed sugary candy to children.  Instead, give the sugar to the dead and eat an apple.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Who are the barbarians in today’s so-called modern world?

October 29, 2014

After I wrote Superior versus Civilized, which mentions that for millennia the Chinese considered everyone outside of the Middle Kingdom a barbarian, the subject stuck in my head.

Why?

As I researched the “Superior versus Civilized” post, I ran into Blogs where Westerners were calling the Chinese barbarians for a variety of reasons.

In this post, I will focus on the opinion I discovered in one Blog.


Warning, the images in this video are graphic and bloody.

The Blog, Animal Abuse in China, attempts building a case that the Chinese are barbarians in these words, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be determined by the way it treats its animal. China tortures animals while little children laugh and cheer. Help the animals who cannot help themselves from this horrific life of torture. Thousands die daily from torture! WE MUST PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON CHINA!!”

However, if that opinion were true and China was guilty, then most nations are also guilty.

Watch the three YouTube videos to see what I mean.


Warning, the images in this video are graphic and bloody.

Many people in most countries are animal lovers but  still eat meat, and there is a lot of pain and suffering that takes place from feed lot to a sanitary package in a super market.

I don’t eat meat, but I’m not an animal lover. I don’t hate animals either. I’ve been a vegan since 1981. Imagine all the animals that didn’t suffer, because I stopped eating meat for health reasons.


Warning, the images in this video are graphic and bloody.

Let’s refer back to that opinion where it says, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be determined by the way it treats its animals.”

If true, America and all Western nations are filled with barbarians. Passing laws won’t change the behavior of people you might consider to be barbarians—wherever they live. New laws just means more people who get caught go to prison, and the United States already has more people locked up than any nation on the planet.

If you don’t believe that, study what happened in America during Prohibition (1920 – 1933). Just click on the link and look at what the charts reveal.

I’m going to borrow an “edited” quote attributed to Jesus Christ—who never wrote anything down—that says, Let the nation that has no guilt cast the first stone.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Let’s take a close look at how many deadbeats there are in the United States living off welfare

October 13, 2014

If you live in China and you think the streets in America are paved in gold, take a close look at how many deadbeats there are in the United States living off welfare, and you might be surprised who the real welfare queens are.

First, a few numbers to get started: there are more than 316 million Americans and 150.8 million are between the ages of 18 to 65—the primary working years for adults. In 2013, 47.1 million Americans lived below the poverty level; 73.6 million were under the age of 18, and 44.6 million were age 65 or older.

Wow, and in September 2014, there were 146.6 million Americans who were working at paid jobs.

But, a few, far-right billionaire oligarchs—for instance, the Walton family and the Koch brothers, and the fools who swallow their propaganda—think that more people in the United States are on welfare and are deadbeats than those who are working and supporting them.

I think it is arguable and safe to say that it would be a misleading lie that the majority of the Americans who are not working are deadbeats on welfare. Only a fool could think that. Is it possible that there are only 4.2 million Americans—who could be deadbeats—between 18 and 65 who do not have a paying job—that’s only 1.328% of the total population? I bet most of those 4.2 million are probably disabled and can’t work or are a stay at home parent.

Did you know ABC reported that Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world—more than the English, the French, the Germans or Norwegians and even, recently, more than the Japanese?

In addition, according to the OECD, in the United States 67% [that is almost 70%] of people aged 15 to 64 [the working class years] have a paid job. … And having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In the United States, 89% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, higher than the OECD average of 75%—and yet some billionaires, including Bill Gates [worth almost $80 billion], the Koch brothers and the Walton family, would have you believe that the public education system in the United States is failing and must be reformed.

20 Something Finance even says “The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World.” And Business Insider says the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime—based on a 5 day 8 hour workweek with a two week vacation annually, that equals 45 years. I worked 45 years, starting at 15 and I retired at 60.  My retirement check comes from CalSTRS, and I paid 8% of my gross income into CalSTRS for the 30 years I was a classroom teacher.

But a Houston based billionaire, according to the Democratic Underground, is attacking public pensions with a goal to kill the guaranteed-benefit plans that are run by teacher retirement systems in every state. This billionaire’s name is John Arnold, who is worth $2.9 billion dollars. Arnold runs a Houston-based hedge fund, and before that he worked for Enron, and it is said that he earned $750 million for Enron the year it went out of business. Huh, how do you earn $750 million for a company that goes out of business the same year?

Contrary to the popular thinking of fools, Social Security is not a form of welfare because workers and employers pay into that program for their entire working life, and in 2013, there were 38 million retired workers—nine out of ten individuals age 65 or older—who collected an average monthly benefit of $1,294. There were 4.9 million dependents; 8.8 million disabled workers, who were paid an average of $1,145 a month, and 6.2 million survivors—survivors are young children and a surviving spouse who cares for the children.

What about food stamps—a real welfare program?

From Media Matters.org we learn that nearly half (47% or 23 million), who get food stamps, were under the age of 18, and another 8 percent (3.9 million) were 60 or older; 41% (more than 20 million) lived in a household with earnings from a job. These workers are known as the “working poor”, and the average household on food stamps received a monthly benefit of $287.

And, these so-called deadbeats—that a few billionaires and a lot of fools think outnumber working Americans—are allegedly robbing us blind while they sit around drinking beer, eating popcorn and watching TV or having sex 18-hours a day to make more babies so they can collect more food stamps. If you believe that, then you might want to look in a mirror to see a fool.

If these billionaires succeed, what will replace progressive era plans like CalSTRS, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and food stamps?

If we look back at history, we might discover the answer to that question. In 1900, before Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, FDR, Kennedy and LBJ, ushered in the progressive era, 40-percent of Americans lived in poverty with only a 5% unemployment rate, and up until 1938, in some states, children could be sold as young as five to factories, coal mines and whorehouses. Imagine your five-year old child working as a prostitute, because boys and girls were sold into prostitution back then when the U.S. was ruled by capitalist Robber Barons.

Is this the America a few billionaires, with help from some fools, are fighting to get back?

By the way, did you watch the video that comes with this post? It really is an educational eye opener.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”


Seeing “Mao’s Last Dancer” through a different lens

September 23, 2014

When I saw the film Mao’s Last Dancer—unlike most U.S. citizens—I went with two people who grew up in China and survived the Cultural Revolution.

As we left the theater, my Chinese friends made these comments. “Great movie. Well done. It shows what China went through. If American audiences don’t see this movie because the lead is Chinese, they don’t want to learn about China.”

The evidence seems to support this thinking because Mao’s Last Dancer only earned $4.8 million from the box office in the U.S. while earning almost $17.5 million in theaters outside the U.S.  Maybe the distributor had something to do with the results, because the film at its widest release was only in 137 theaters. In fact, we had to drive more than thirty miles to see it, because in the film’s first week, it was only in 33 theaters.

However, for the first showing of the day, it was a nice audience—several hundred at least.

Mao’s Last Dancer was a great but misleading title. When the dancer, Li Cunxin defected to the U.S. in 1981, Mao had been dead six years. How could he be Mao’s last dancer? In addition, there are ballet troupes all over China—even today—including Beijing where Li learned ballet.

The Huffington Post review said the movie was middlebrow and rises above the pack if only by a little.  The film critic was Marshall Fine, and I disagreed with him.

If Fine knew more about China’s history, he might understand why I disagree.

When Li was a child, China was in the middle of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a form of national (or collective) madness that lasted about a decade and was ended by Deng Xiaoping after Mao’s death in 1976

Mao’s Last Dancer does a subtle but good job showing what rural life was like during the Cultural Revolution and afterward as attitudes started to change in China.

The movie also shows how tough the Chinese are when it comes to education. Working to gain an education is serious business in China—even today.  What you see while Li and the other children are learning ballet reveals the Chinese mindset.

The New York Times review was kinder but still off the mark.  Mike Hale, writing for the Times, said, “Mao’s Last Dancer is a story of a young and flexible Chinese man who comes to America, where he’s seduced by disco, creative freedom and a honey-haired Houston virgin–”

Can anyone blame young Li for being seduced by a glitzy party country build on debt while the early 1980’s China is a drab, colorless place just emerging from its shell? At the time, China’s metamorphosis was just beginning.

If Li had gone home to China and married the Chinese ballerina he was courting, today he would be living a lifestyle similar to what he saw in America. China has changed that much.

What took the U.S. more than a century to achieve, China accomplished in the thirty years since 1981. In fact, I was disappointed that there wasn’t a scene near the end showing one of China’s modern cities that compares to the Houston Li saw when he first arrived in the U.S.

Hall’s conclusion was wrong. Mao’s Last Dancer is not “strenuously brainless”.  If Hall knew more about China, he would understand why my two Chinese friends believed the movie was worth seeing for its story and its educational value.

It seems that the Amazon reviewers of the film for Mao’s Last Dancer might agree with me because 133 of the 170 reviews have 5-stars.  The average for the film was also 4.6 of 5. The book had 215 reviews for another average of 4.6 stars, and there were 156, 5-star reviews.

In the previous video, Li Cunxin mentions the poverty and hunger he knew as a child under Mao’s leadership of China.

However, while true, it would be misleading to think that conditions were better before Mao. Under Mao—even with the purges, the Great Famine (1959 – 1961) and the Cultural Revolution—the quality of life for the average Chinese improved steadily, if slowly, and the strongest evidence of that is life expectancy. Life expectancy was only 36.5 years in 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was founded, and the population was 400 million. In 1976, when Mao died, life expectancy had increased by 20 years to 56.5 with a population of 700 million. Today, life expectancy is 73.3 years with a population that is more than 1.3 billion.

In fact [China is known as the land of famines—Between 108 BC and 1911 AD, there were no fewer than 1,828 famines in China, or one nearly every year in one province or another. However, the famines varied greatly in severity.], throughout most of Chinese history the majority of Chinese have lived in poverty. As the hundreds of famines that have killed millions of Chinese attest, Chinese poverty has often been absolute, i.e., lacking the very material resources needed to sustain life and maintain health. … The PRC is the first Chinese government [in China's long history] to attempt systematically to reduce both inequality and poverty. Griffith University, Australia. Poverty by David C. Schak

The Word Bank says, “Between 1981 and 2001, the proportion of population living in poverty in China fell from 53 percent to just eight percent.”

Be aware that China’s critics are always quick to cherry pick any facts that will make the PRC look bad without history or context.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Despised in China, the woman who died a thousand times

August 12, 2014

Almost half a century after her death, Anna May Wong (1905 to 1961) has not been forgotten.

As a child, Anna loved going to the movies and even cut school to go.

Between 1919 and 1961, she acted in 62 films. The Internet Movie Data Base says she was the “first Chinese-American movie star”.

To act, Anna had to play the roles she was given. The Western stereotype cast her as a sneaky, untrustworthy woman who always fell for a Caucasian man. The dark side of achieving her dream of acting in movies was that Anna had to die so the characters she played got what they deserved.

Anna often joked that her tombstone should read, “Here lies the woman who died a thousand times.”

Until Chinese started to emigrate to the U.S. in the mid-19th century, they had never encountered a people who considered them racially and culturally inferior.

However, the discrimination against the Chinese in America was only exceeded by the racism and hatred directed at African-Americans.

In fact, in the 1960s, many of the anti racist laws enacted during the Civil Rights era focused on protecting African-Americans, which created a protected class, and since the Chinese—due to cultural differences often did not complain—they were left behind.

In many respects, this racism toward the Chinese still exists in the US today and manifests itself through the media as China bashing, which supports the old stereotype.

When Anna May Wong visited China in 1936, she had to abandon the trip to her parent’s ancestral village when a mob accused her of disgracing China.

After her return to Hollywood, she was determined to play Chinese characters that were not stereotypes, but it was a losing battle. To escape the hateful racism, she lived in Europe for a few years.

Since U.S. law did not allow her to marry the Caucasian man she loved, and she was afraid that if she married a Chinese man he would force her to give up acting since Chinese culture judged actresses to be the same as prostitutes, she never married.

Anna May Wong smoked and drank too much. She died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California at age 56.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Importing Chinese Students to export American lifestyles

March 18, 2014

American Sinophobes—and there are many—probably won’t want to read this but millions of Chinese students from Communist China have attended American universities and colleges and earned degrees. In fact, according to PewGlobal.org, only 37% of Americans see China favorably.

But that hasn’t stopped some of China’s top leaders sending their children to attend universities in the West. For instance, the Daily Mail.co.uk reported that China’s new ‘first daughter’ attends Harvard under a pseudonym and is protected by Chinese officials 24-7.

Next time you visit USC, MIT, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford or UCLA, look around.  How many Chinese do you see?

PBS reported in November 2013, that “Hundreds of thousands of Chinese students are flocking to U.S. colleges and universities, helping drive the number of international students studying in America to record levels.”

This didn’t start recently and it isn’t free. In fact, it’s expensive for a foreign student to attend a college or university in the U.S.

Since the door out of China opened as early as 1980, more than a million Chinese students have graduated from U.S. colleges and returned to China, which may explain China’s Sexual Revolution in the late 1990s.

It might shock Americans to realize that most of the people in China that have the money to send their children to the US belong to the Communist Youth League or the Communist Party and few who earn a university degree in the US stay. The South China Morning Post reported, “For decades, the rate of return to China remained low as students with advanced degrees did not see opportunities for research at home. Last year, more than 272,000 Chinese returned after completing their education abroad, 86,700 more than in 2011; a 46 percent increase, according to the Ministry of Education.”

Many of these students return to mainland China influenced by what they learned in America.

Imagine, when China’s growth to become a modern nation is complete, the country might turn into a republic and/or democracy influenced by America’s “so-called” socialist, liberal institutions of higher education.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Looking at Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic in China: Part 2 of 2

January 22, 2014

We must also ask how many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in Sun Yat-sen’s republic.

To find out, we need to take a closer look at who was eligible to vote in the United States during Sun’s life to discover that minorities [China has 56] and women in the United States were often not allowed to vote. In addition, some American states at the time had literacy laws in place and eligible adult men [mostly minorities] had to pass a literacy test to be able to vote. The first literacy test for voting was adopted by Connecticut in 1855. In fact, ten of the eleven southern states had subjective literacy tests that were used to restrict voter registration, but some of those states used grandfather clauses to exempt white voters from taking literacy tests.

Knowing this, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have created a republic in China that only allowed educated and wealthy Han Chinese men to vote. Women and children would have remained chattel—the property of men to be bought and sold at will for any reason—as they had for thousands of years and China’s minorities would have had no rights.

Therefore, once we subtract children, women, minorities, Han Chinese adult males who did not own property and any of those who were illiterate from the eligible voting population, what’s left is less than five percent of the adult population—and the educated Han elite adult males who owned property would rule the country. Most of the people in China would have no voice; no vote.

What about today’s China?

Six-hundred million rural Chinese are allowed to vote in local elections—only CCP members vote in national elections but at last count, there were 80 million CCP members; China’s leader—with limited powers—may only serve two five-year terms. And China has its own form of an electoral college. The President of China is elected by the National People’s Congress [NPC] with 2,987 members [dramatically more than the Electoral College in the United States]. The NPC also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.

There is another significant difference between China’s NPC and America’s Electoral College—members of China’s NPC are elected but members of America’s Electoral College are appointed by the major political parties in the United States. This means that the American people have no say in the few hundred who elect the U.S. President.

Then there is this fact: China’s culture is influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism—not Christianity, Islam or Judaism—and all three of these Asian religions/philosophies emphasizes harmony with little or no focus on individual rights as practiced in Europe and North America. Knowing that, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have supported some form of censorship over individuals in China when too much freedom of expression threatened the nation’s harmony.

Return to or start with Looking at Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic in China: Part 1

Discover three of China’s other republics; then decide how they are different from China.

  _______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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